Paraeducator Funding for Failing Schools Passed by Senate

(KCPW News) Utah’s failing schools may be getting some help in the form of paraeducators, after a bill to help pay for them cleared the Senate floor Friday. Paraeducators have a two-year degree or certification to provide one-on-one instruction to students under the supervision of teachers. Democratic Senator Karen Mayne says they don’t require benefits, their hourly wage is about $13, and they’re more effective than aides or volunteers.

“I’ve come to you today giving you a program that doesn’t cost very much, that will help these schools, and they go statewide, with one-on-one trained, skilled people, that we can afford to help these challenged schools,” she said.

Under Mayne’s bill, schools that are deemed failing under No Child Left Behind would get funding for one to two paraeducators. It calls for $500,000 from the state to pay for them.

But some members of the body, including Republican Senator Aaron Osmond, worried the bill overlaps with another piece of legislation to reduce class sizes passed by the Senate earlier in the session.

“ All the things that we’re introducing this year from adaptive testing to the conversations about necessarily existing small schools and other funding priorities, I’m nervous about yet another allocation when we’ve also placed such a priority on reducing class size.”

Mayne’s bill passed on a 24-to-5 vote. It will be heard once more in the Senate before moving to the House.